The family of Archie Battersbee will file an urgent application to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal controversially prevented them from taking their case to the United Nations.
Responding to the families’ application for a stay of execution in order to take their case to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, the Court of Appeal responded that the stay would be extended until 2pm on 28 July only for the purpose of making an application to the European Court of Human Rights, but not to the United Nations.
Permission to preserve life
The ECHR has a track record of rejecting applications from parents in end-of-life cases such as Archie’s.
The family will tomorrow apply to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal the decision to block them from making an application to the UN.
The UK has joined the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which permits individuals and families to make complaints about violations of rights of disabled people. The UN, like the ECHR may ask the UK government to delay the withdrawal of life support while a complaint is being investigated.
Permission repeatedly refused
Archie’s parents, Hollie Dance, 46, and father, Paul Battersbee, from Southend-On-Sea, have been fighting a legal battle since their son was found unconscious with a ligature around his neck in what is believed to be a tragic accident in April.
Doctors, who cannot be identified because of reporting restrictions imposed by the Court, have asked the Family Division of the High Court to rule that it is in Archie’s ‘best interests’ for life support to be removed, resulting in immediate death.
On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal refused Archie’s family permission to appeal a High Court judgment that ruled that the 12-year-old’s life-support should be withdrawn against their wishes.
Archie’s father, Paul Battersbee, 57, was rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack before the hearing and has now been released from hospital.
Despite Mr Battersbee’s collapse, Sir Andrew McFarlane – the president of the Family Division of the High Court and the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Peter Jackson – continued with the hearing, despite requests to adjourn, and dismissed the permission to appeal ruling that:
“I recognise the outcome is not the one the family hoped for”, and added that “Archie’s religious beliefs were insufficient” to justify the continuation of life-support and that continued treatment “would not be lawful.”
Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, in a rolled-up hearing, the parents’ lawyers had argued that the High Court had ‘erred in law’ by ruling that it is in Archie’s ‘best interests’ to die and the courts had not given “real or proper weight” to Archie’s previously expressed wishes and religious beliefs.
Archie’s parents have had to endure a rollercoaster legal battle, losing in the High Court in May, winning in the Court of Appeal in June only to lose again in the High Court last week.
Having initially lost in the High Court, they became the first family in recorded legal history to win an appeal to the Court of Appeal in a case of this kind.
Courts are ‘forcing us down a road they know will fail’
Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, said: “”It feels nasty that the Court of Appeal have tried to force us down a road which they know will fail and have taken away our rights of taking the case to the UN.
“All we have asked for from the beginning is for Archie to be given more time and for Archie’s wishes and ours to be respected. As long as Archie is alive, I will never give up on him, he is too good to give up on.
“When he is to die, we believe it should be in God’s way and in God’s time. What is the rush? Why is the hospital and the courts so keen to push this through as fast as possible?
“I don’t believe there is anything ‘dignified’ about planning Archie’s death. For me, this would be the most traumatic outcome.
“Parents need support not pressure. It is exhausting what we have been through. We should not have to endlessly battle the hospital in the courts for what we believe is right for Archie
“Top judges have told us, however, that this is the law, if this so, the law must change.
“Archie is making medical progression which we have not been allowed to address in court, but we are determined to present it as evidence as take this legal challenge forward.
“We will continue fighting for Archie and will not give up.”
‘Unexplained urgency’ to end Archie’s life
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre who have been supporting the families’ case, said: “The pace at which this case is running is troubling and there appears to be an unexplained urgency from the hospital and courts to end life support for Archie.
“There needs to be a wholesale review of how the system works in this kind of case. Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee are remarkable in the way in which they have advocated for their son.
“Alfie Evans, Isaiah Haastrup, Zainab Abbassi, Charlie Gard… these are all highly publicised cases that came before Archie’s case, where hospitals and children’s guardians have gone against the express wishes of parents to continue care with the end result being court orders which saying it was in the best interests of each of these children to die. Parents in a similar case, Tafida Raqueeb, managed to get their daughter to a hospital abroad where she is still alive today. They are now passionate campaigners for reform in these cases.
“While these cases are always emotional and technically difficult, at the end of the day, a system that is working will wait until parents are ready rather than bring the full force of the law upon them. One of the most frustrating elements of each of these cases, and one of the reasons these cases have captured so many hearts, is that each of these families had legitimate reasons why care should have continued. Archie’s case is no different.
“Archie’s case has focused on two issues of fundamental importance to the sanctity of life and the protection of the vulnerable. First, the controversial concept of ‘brain death’. Second, the everlasting ethical dispute between those who believe in sanctity of life until its natural end, in God’s way, in God’s time – and those who believe that ‘dignity’ requires a choreographed death, be that euthanasia, assisted suicide, or a planned withdrawal of life support.
“We continue to stand and support the family in every way we can as they take their case to forward.”
Find out more about Archie Battersbee